ST. LOUIS – If your home garden was like many this past summer, the 2022 growing season was a big letdown.  

“So many people came to us at the Kemper Center wondering why they were seeing reduced yields with their tomatoes, cucumbers, and lots of other veggies,” says Justine Kandra, a horticulturist at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden. “And they wanted to know what they were doing wrong.”

But thankfully, Kandra says it wasn’t our fault. At least, not all of it. 

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“It was the weather,” she says. “The weather was negatively impacting their garden’s performance.” 

May started cool, so there was a delay getting the garden season going. Then, in June, temperatures soared, and we saw very little rainfall. That continued through July until we saw record breaking rain in late July and early August. 

“This combination of extreme rainfalls and fluctuating temperatures led to poor performance on people’s home gardens,” Kandra says. 

We cooled off in August, but the damage had already been done. Most home gardeners had little to no yield from many crops. 

“Plants were growing a little bit but definitely not flowering or fruiting at all,” explains Kandra. 

The Kemper Center itself had a rough summer.  

“Reduced tomato yields. By far, that was definitely the biggest disappointment. Squashes too. Surprisingly, though, our okra did really well.” 

We will all hope for better weather in 2023. Your garden may be dormant right now, but you don’t need to be. There are steps you can take in the winter months to help your harvest next summer. 

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“Keep up with the weeding. If you have a warm day, even in January, February, get out there and get weeding. It will do a world of good for you in the springtime,” Kandra says. 

Clean garden tools and keep them stored away from snow and ice. It is not too late to mulch. Mulch helps moderate swings in soil temperature. Shredded leaves or pine needles work well. Now is also a good time to run a soil test to see where you stand on the acid level of your soil. 

“If you are not sure how your fertilizer regime is working out, get a soil test done, and that can give you more details,” Kandra says. 

Visit or call the Kemper Center for Home Gardening for all of your gardening questions.